[Set of nine illustrations to 'The Heathen Chinee by F. Bret Harte'.]
[Published by the Western News Company, 121 & 123 State Street, Chiacgo. Entered According to Act of Congress in the Year 1870 by the Western News Company in the Office of the Librarian of Congress.]
Nine numbered lithographs on stiff card, lacking title. Each 185 x 135mm, 7¼ x 5¼" Some soiling.
Nine cards illustrating 'The Heathen Chinee' by Bret Harte, a narrative poem by American writer Bret Harte satirising the racial prejudice against the Chinese in northern California, especially from the Irish labourers who saw them as a threat to their jobs. First published in September 1870 as 'Plain Language from Truthful James', the narrator tells the story of how he and Bill Nye invited 'Ah Sin' to join a gambling card game which the chinaman claimed not to know. Although Nye is cheating the chinaman wins: he is attacked and revealed as a better cheat. The game ending in a riot with bottles thrown and guns fired. However James's claim that Ah Sin had 24 packs of cards up his long sleeves show his claims were exaggerated. The poem was an instant hit and was republished in newspapers across the country. However the satire was too subtle for some people: Eugene Casserly, a senator from California, thanked Harte for supporting his anti-Chinese immigration campaign. Despite the poem making him one of the foremost American writers of the period, Hart (1836-1902) called the poem 'the worst poem I ever wrote, possibly the worst poem anyone ever wrote'.
[Ref: 26729] £380.00